July 21: The Flames have officially announced the contract for Jones, confirming the previously reported details.
July 16: As reported on by CapFriendly, the Calgary Flames have signed unrestricted free agent forward Ben Jones. The deal has not yet been officially announced, but CapFriendly reports that the deal is a one-year, two-way contract with a $750K cap hit and $100K AHL salary. Jones became an unrestricted free agent after he was not issued a qualifying offer by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Jones, 23, was the final member of the Golden Knights’ first-ever draft class. Drafted 189th overall in 2017, Jones had a successful junior career with the Niagra IceDogs of the OHL. While Jones scored 41 goals and 102 points in his final OHL season, his adjustment to professional hockey was rocky. Jones had only seven points in 36 games for the Chicago Wolves as a rookie professional, although the caveat there is that the Wolves are notorious for, when it comes to issues of ice time, prioritizing AHL veterans who can help them win in the short term compared to their NHL affiliate’s prospects. As a result, Jones played a very limited role in the AHL in his first year in professional hockey and even saw time in the ECHL.
When the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate switched from Chicago to the new Henderson Silver Knights, Jones grew into a middle-six role and scored 16 points in 38 games. He even got time on the Silver Knights’ powerplay and some sporadic short-handed ice time as well. This past season, Jones finally became an impactful professional player. Jones earned a top-six role in Henderson and saw significant special teams ice time. Jones’ production came along as well, and he scored 25 goals and 41 points in 66 games. Jones’ strong play even earned him a call-up to the Golden Knights when they were ravaged by injuries, and he got two games in at the NHL level.
At 23 years old, Jones is a rare unrestricted free agent who still theoretically has room to grow. Jones’ breakout season with the Silver Knights gives confidence that he can be a difference-maker on the Flames’ new Calgary-based AHL affiliate, and perhaps he can get even more NHL games next season with strong performance. At a $750K cap hit, rolling the dice on Jones is not a bad way for GM Brad Treliving to add depth to his organization.